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The Turn of the Screw

A chilling and mysterious ghost story that questions reality and madness.

Joshua Arber

on 19 January 2013

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Transcript of The Turn of the Screw

Joshua Arber A novel by Henry James Major Characters The Governess

Mrs. Grose

Miles Flora

Peter Quint

Miss Jessel Zeitgeist Purpose Themes Tone Protagonist
James does not give her a name.
Hired to care for and teach
Miles and Flora Miles' sister
Secretly meets with Miss
Jessel A servant of Bly
The Governess' companion Flora's brother
Expelled from his school for
reasons unknown Former valet at Bly
The ghost that meets with
Miles Former governess
Had a relationship with Quint, who was of a lower class
Ghost that meets with Flora Written in 1898
Late 19th century
-The Victorian Era
-Britain eventually converted into an
industrial country; by the end of the
century factories were commonplace.
Decline of organized religion; less than half
of the population were present at a church
on Sundays.
-The residents of Bly, (English country home) however, still
attended church on Sundays.
The British population start to live in cities and towns near
the end of the century."By 1881 about two thirds of the
population lived in towns."
Some of England's population in the 1800's still believed in witches. Antagonists Tense, suspenseful, and fearful
-The Governess becomes on edge constantly
after her first sighting of Quint.
-chapters end on cliffhangers
~"The presence on the lawn -I felt sick as
I made it out- was poor little Miles himself."
Ambiguous, mysterious, and eerie
-James does not name the Governess.
-The reason for Miles's expulsion is unclear.
-The cause of Miles's death is unclear.
~"We were alone with the quiet day, and his
little heart, dispossessed, had stopped."
-The Governess Distinguishing reality and fantasy
-Key question: Are the ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel
real, or has the Governess gone mad?
-Two possible answers:
~The ghosts are indeed real, haunt the home of Bly
and its residency and kill Miles.
~The Governess is insane, hallucinating that the ghosts
are there, and takes Miles's life.
-James leaves it up to the readers to interpret the answer.
Losing innocence
-Whether the ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel are indeed
there or not, the Governess believes that they are trying to
plant sexual knowledge into Miles and Flora's minds because
Quint and Miss Jessel once had an intimate relationship
together in their past lives. Critique The Critic http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/10/ever-scarier-on-the-turn-of-the-screw.html

My take
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_LLDawF9hZfTWlkVDBFNVVLWE0/edit Works Cited James, H. (1908). The turn of the screw. New York: Penguin Classics.

Lambert, T. (2012). A history of england in the 19th century . Retrieved from http://www.localhistories.org/19thcentengland.html

Lambert, T. (2012). Life in the 19th century . Retrieved from http://www.localhistories.org/19thcent.html

Leithauser, B. (2012, October 30). Ever scarier: On “The Turn of the Screw”. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/10/ever-scarier-on-the-turn-of-the-screw.html Fin Entertainment
-Henry James aimed to give the readers of the world a show with
his most popular ghost story, and that is exactly what he
successfully accomplished. The Turn of the Screw is a truly bone
chilling and suspenseful novel.
~"When Phelps [James's friend] described his reaction to Henry
James, his friend replied 'I meant to scare the whole world with
that story; and you had precisely the emotion that I hoped to
arouse everybody," (p. 20). -William Lyon Phelps
Challenging Superstition
-James wrote this book to question the belief of superstition.
Peasants in the 19th century still believed in witches and
witchcraft, and ghosts are not far from witches in terms of
superstition. By the turn of the century, science was put into
consideration instead of religion and superstition for the unknown. Present Relevance Conveying Theme James successfully questions reality and fiction throughout the
novel. The novel made me constantly have the question in my head
chapter after chapter.
James conveys losing innocence well by giving Miles and Flora each their own personal ghosts in Quint and Miss Jessel. However, James does not convey for certain that this was Quint and Miss Jessel's actual goal, as we only get the Governess' perspective on the matter. Conveying Zeitgeist Although Britain was being transformed into a more
industrial country, James places the story in a
secluded country home named Bly.

To counter the belief of superstition, James plants the idea of reality and fantasy into the reader's mind. Like today's horror movies and books, Henry James's novel The Turn of the Screw is meant to entertain, even in the 21st century. The book is a classic ghost story that was definitely entertaining to me.

Are ghosts real or was the Governess crazy? This is the true question of the novel that has yet to be definitively answered. There are still people today who believe in superstition and the paranormal.
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